Wow, I'm more than a third of the way done, thank whatever. The patron saint of books, apparently.
Today: One Hit Wonders
More or less. Some of them have written more than one book, but not much more. Some of them apparently only had one book in them, possibly distilling some childhood experience... some of them write primarily for adults, but had one YAF book percolating away in their mind. Some of them died young. One of them.
The authors: Yuri Suhl
Frances TempleYuri Suhl's
book, Uncle Misha's Partisans
, is part of the quite extensive subgenre of YAF-fiction-on-the-Holocaust. His is virtually unique, however, because it is about Jewish partisans in the Ukraine. Apparently it is based on his own childhood, though in some ways it so perfectly fulfills the fantasy that there was a way to resist and survive the Nazis that it's hard to believe it could be true. Other excellent entries in this subgenre include Jane Yolen's Briar Rose
, Lois Lowry's Number the Stars
, and Jane Yolen's other book -- The Devil's Arithmetic
, which mixes a sort of time travel/Holocaust trope, and is very, very good. I guess it's more YAF than Briar Rose
, which shares elements of a romance and general fiction.
Anyway, Yuri Suhl's book was the first one I'd ever read about the partisans, and it caught my imagination, deeply. The scenes where partisans execute a collaborating Ukraine policeman, after fooling his wife into letting them wait for him in her village house, which is stuffed with loot from local deported Jews... chilling. And the young male protagonist manages to be a hero in a way that is believable. The tone of the book is not unlike some sort of meld of the 1970s miniseries (the late 70s was a great time for epic miniseries, like Roots
and this one) Holocaust
and Marge Piercy's Gone to Soldiers
-- I am extremely miffed that that last book is not available as an ebook. Yet, I hope. I don't know how available Uncle Misha's Partisans
is -- let me check. Well, you can buy it used. And, in fact, there is now a true-to-life biography of Mottele, the hero of Yuri Suhl's book, a young Jewish violinist/partisan. See, here.Indi Rana
wrote a book I return to again and again (well, I return to a lot of books, but this one is a special favorite). The Roller Birds of Rampur
is the story of an Indian-British girl who has come up against the deep racism of her white boyfriend's family, in her final year before college. Or A levels or something like that, anyway. She becomes incredibly depressed, and decides to go stay with her grandparents on a working farm in India. The story deals with how she comes to terms with who she is, having been raised in Britain, and also how she struggles with what India is like -- especially caste and the condition of peasant women. Her grandfather was a Marxist who came to question Stalinism's utility for India... he talks with her a lot about Hindu philosophy, dharma, karma, etc. The book is thoughtful and moving and informative, all three. I love it. I wish she'd written more, but as far as I know, she hasn't. She has a worthy competitor, however, in the more recent books by Kashmira Sheth. I'll do her another time.Vonda McIntyre
and Pamela Sargent
. These are both female authors of sci fi which is more often written for adults. But each of them have written at least one book that more properly is YAF. Vonda McIntyre's Barbary
is a good piece of sci-fi -- space station, cat, teenage girl... gah, I'm having difficulty remembering more of the plot! That's not a good advertisement for it! But she's a great writer of sci fi in general, just trust me on this! I have a hard time knowing which novels of hers I like the best... I love Dreamsnake
which I think I read while I was still in middle school. And I like her immediate future quartet about spaceflight and alien encounters, and her books which deal with intentionally bioengineered aquatic humans, the Divers. Her politics are very good.
Pamela Sargent wrote Earthseed
, which is a YAF story about a colony ship with only children aboard, heading for a new planet and trying to teach them how to survive. It's quite bleak, and while it predates Octavia Butler by a long way (I am pretty sure... I guess I should check), there are distinct similarities in some of the plot, and in the tone, with Butler's Dawn
. I wish Sargent, too, had written more. Ha! In fact, surprise ending, she has. "Without fanfare..." as Amazon puts it. Indeed. She just recently continued the Earthseed
idea -- it was written in 1983 -- and last year put out Farseed
, and coming this November, Seed Seeker
. They sound great, if not as groundbreaking as Earthseed
. Now to check when Dawn
was first published. Maybe it came first! No, I don't think so. Dawn
seems to have been published in 1997 or so. But at least I was able just now to download Lilith's Brood
, which is all of the Xenogenesis trilogy, via Borders' ebooks.Frances Temple
-- yikes! I left her off... she more properly belongs in my historical YAF entry, but she's definitely part of this group, too. She wrote a great medieval period YAF book, The Ramsay Scallop
, which covers similar territory to basically all of the Karen Cushman books (that is, England in the Middle Ages), but has less humor and more consideration of what pilgrimage meant to Catholics. The main characters in this book are on their way to Santiago de Compostela, in Spain, and on their way, they encounter an Andalusian Muslim, who strangely hasn't yet been expelled. Well... I can't remember right now the exact time (apart from Queen Isabella of Spain finishing off Granada or wherever, before funding Columbus) most Moors were expelled... so maybe his lone existence isn't strange. But he seems to be alone. Anyway, a useful exploration of religion, race, and otherness. Frances Temple also wrote a book about children during Papa Doc's Haiti. She was pretty amazing. And then she died young, of cancer, which SUCKS.